Saturday, June 18, 2011

Visual examples: using photos as visuals

In this post I give an example of how photos can be used in a presentation's visuals. I show one more example of image manipulation and how to use the power of analogy to produce beautiful visuals. 

I'm helping a friend creating a presentation stack for a talk about an exchange program between a university here in Germany and the Universidade de Sao Paulo in Brazil. Strictly speaking this is not a scientific presentation, but it will take place in a university context. The audience is made of potential students that would take part on the program exchange. After gathering the important facts, I went to Wikipedia and Fickr to pull some images. All the images have a creative commons license.  Here are some examples:


To start, Sao Paulo. I pulled this panorama of old downtown Sao Paulo from Wikipedia. The original is larger than the size of canvas. Instead of trying to scale it or crop it to make it fill in one slide, I animated it in Keynote by moving from right to left.

We worked on a top-down idea for the talk, so after talking about Sao Paulo,  I went ahead and pull this other picture of the University in Sao Paulo from Wikipedia. I kept the font the same: Helvetica -bold-48 in white. The text's color background is not random. I used the color picker tool in Keynote and chose a back gray. The photo and the slide don't have the same size. I filled the missing space felt by the photo by making the slide's background color black. This is more pleasant for the eye. I placed the text near to the building complex to direct the eye gaze. People will read to the text first, and then look at the building.

We moved to talk about one relevant fact about the school: How big is it? A school's size is an important criteria  for students,  to decide whether or not they want to go. I distilled the question to How many people are there? The number administrative staff is certainly important, but not for the target audience. What was relevant for them was the number of professors and students. I rounded the numbers. That's a little details that makes a big difference. If you can, do it.

I pulled the professor's photo from Fickr. It has the same height of  the slide but only half of the width. To make the slide more dynamic, I used I trick from Garr Reynolds: Blending the image from transparent to the slice's background. I did it using GIMP's Blend tool. The trick works pretty well in this case.

Did you notice that the woman is looking at the text? That's coincidence either. This is to help to direct the eye gaze to the text.

Now to the exchange program! The program offers a double title (Abschluss in german), one in Germany and one in Brazil. Therefore the analogy two graduations. I was aware this slide broke the style I had been using some far. I had to. I pulled this image from Fickr as well. I think is beautiful, and didn't find anything better, so I went for  more style. The slide's background color is the same as the photo's corners. The image came with the vignette. I added the reflection effect direct in Keynote.

An important piece of information is when can the students go on the exchange program. In this case it from the third year onward.

These are the two last slides. Again more information about the exchange. What you guess what information?  Students might get a scholarship for  traveling and room & board expenses. 

I think these three lasts slides are the best ones mainly for two reasons, the quality of the photos and their analogy. In every slide I have tried to apply Seth Godin's rule-of-thumb on keeping the number of words per slide below 6.

I hope these examples help you getting some ideas for the presentation's next visuals.

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